e x a s m o n t h ly
c o m
FEAR AND CLOTHING:
The more you approach a ninja-level of invisibility, the happier your teenager will be.
ships involving weekends sailing on Chesapeake Bay developed when the answers were“Princeton,” “Harvard,” or “Yale.”The next shocking discovery was that getting into college is reminiscent of snagging a seat on the last lifeboat leaving the
. It’s a frenzy driven by fear—the fear that if your child doesn’t get into a “good” college, he faces a lifetime of janitorial work sweeping up at China Intergalactic, and the far greater fear that your tennis partner’s child will getinto a better school than yours and make you look like a giant loser driving around witha “My Son and My Money Go to East Pan Gravy Community College” bumper sticker onthe back of your Lexus. The damn Brits have it so easy: You’re
As a Texas mom,
I always assumed thatcollege would be a no-brainer. If you wantedyour child to get a world-class education,you sent him to the University of Texas. If you wanted him to have unnatural congresswith barnyard animals, it was off to TexasA&M. Something for everyone. But like somuch else about parenthood, from pottytraining to the home tonsillectomy, it turnedout to be vastly more complicated than I’dbeen led to believe.
My rst shocking dis-covery was that the majority of the kids UTaccepts are in the top 10 percent of theirclass. I take that on faith, since a quick strollacross the Forty Acres reveals myriad ip-opped chuckleheads who look to have beenin the top 10 percent of their class in, maybe,Gap Sweater Folding for Condescending Teens. In any event, UT is not the given itonce was, and now that Teen Boy is a juniorin high school, I have been forced to considerthe roughly one squidgillion colleges out-side the state.
This necessity presenteda particularly brutal learning curve, sincemy own college preparation fell somewherebetween blithe and comatose: I stepped outof a giant public high school, walked a fewblocks up the street, and entered a giantpublic university. The concept that therewas much difference between one collegeand another only penetrated my conscious-ness when I spent a summer as an intern inWashington, D.C. (far less spicy than onemight hope). Everyone I met took an inex-plicable interest in where I’d gone to school.I found this quirky trait endearing until Ifigured out that conversations tended tostop dead after my bright and peppy an-swer, “University of New Mexico! Go Lo-bos!” On the other hand, intense friend-
Don’t bring your kid! And other things parents should know whenit’s time to visit college campuses.
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